Bayesian methods are now widely used for analysing radiocarbon dates. We find that the non-informative priors in use in the literature generate a bias towards wider date ranges which does not in general reflect substantial prior knowledge. We recommend using a prior in which the distribution of the difference between the earliest and latest dates has a uniform distribution. We show how such priors are derived from a simple physical model of the deposition and observation process. We illustrate this in a case-study, examining the effect that various priors have on the reconstructed dates. Bayes factors are used to help to decide model choice problems.